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A Golden Opportunity

Margaretta Peale, Cake with Raisins, 1829
Margaretta Peale, Cake with Raisins, 1829

Did you know that in the southern United States—when a snowstorm is approaching, the three most important items to stock up on are wine, eggs, and bread?

I was absolutely certain this was true— until last week. If the snow is even whispered, we immediately dash to the grocery store to stock up on “survival rations” to get us through what we consider to be a most unnatural disaster.

What do you stock up on in a storm?

Pondering this gave me another idea. Would it be more interesting to consider the question another way— What are you stocking up on in your life?

I didn’t know it at the time, but this storm turned out to be my golden opportunity to gain a personal insight.  Something happened that day that caused me to examine how intentions and actions play out in our lives. Do our actions either honor or dishonor our core values?

NCSU's WWII Memorial Bell Tower in the snow (2015)
NCSU’s WWII Memorial Bell Tower in the snow (2015)


Raleigh goes into a frenetic feeding frenzy right before a snow storm. When I finished work for the day and had arrived at the grocery store, multi-tasking all the way, a shopper caught my eye. There she is, this elderly lady making her way with determination down the aisle and holding on tight to her cart for stability. Clearly, she’s in some distress. Folks are zipping around her as fast as they can.

We chatted and I learned that Maria lived what I’ll call a “giving” life. She’s a retired college professor.  In that one moment, I made a life-changing friend with a single act of thoughtfulness. I had no idea “who” she was at the time— but I do now.

Why do I share this story? Most of us truly seek to discern what is written on our hearts. We hope to find a significant purpose in our lives. In one form or another, this is the universal search for the meaning of life.

I’d been experiencing an internal struggle.  Here’s what I’m trying to figure out.

  • What has God written on my heart?
  • How can I read it clearly— and do it?

A couple of weeks ago over lunch, a friend offered her feedback on how she sees my dilemma. She suggested that she has observed that my three most apparent operating principles are:

  • Standing firm in my values and withstand with grace.
  • Engaging with a clear purpose and good intent.
  • Speaking truth to power.

For the past year, I’ve been stepping-down my hours with the Alumni Program and preparing to transition off StepUp’s staff.  Following the death of my husband, becoming part of the StepUp family was a terrific experience. Though this work helping people in need of a second chance, StepUp re-connected me to a community of caring and thoughtful change-makers.

Kauffman Foundation Facilitator Training (2014)
Kauffman Foundation Facilitator Training (2014)


Last year I completed The Kauffman Foundations’s entrepreneurship training. Combining business coaching with this new knowledge, my plans are to focus on connecting with others to build something meaningful, such as a StartUp Community, a non-profit, or a triple-bottom-line venture. I’ll also travel to Penland School of Crafts to further develop my skills as a jeweler and metalsmith.

As I prepare to meet the future, I’m aware that I’ve felt excitement and panic in equal measure. The storm slowed me down and meeting Maria replenished my spirit.

Let me weld these disparate thoughts back together with this question.  When you to think back on the big storms in your own life—  What are you stocking up on?

How we choose to spend our time defines who we are. Those choices speak volumes about what we truly value.

To me, it’s people. It’s my favorite verse, “Do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with your God.” I’m embracing this journey, knowing I have everything I truly need. Faith that the Lord has written it on my heart.


Quick PodCast on Startup Weekend with Teaming for Technology NC

Startup Weekend NC  is focused on entrepreneurial opportunities in the IT and E-Waste sectors.  Together with Teaming For Technology, we are convening the Triangle area’s creative minds to look for solutions which profitably address this global problem.

Screen Shot 2014-08-13 at 11.14.34 AM

Sept. 26-28 in Raleigh, NC



Problems are opportunities.  This problem is global and it’s growing.   Here’s the million-dollar question: What happens to old electronics and why does it matter?    Listen to the attached mini-podcast with Al Reynolds of T4T walking and talking us through the issues.

Some e-waste products are refurbished, however, only a tiny fraction of used computer parts are recycled. Even when we take old computers, laptops and printers to a recycling center, we have no guarantee that it is actually recycled – not in the way most of us think of recycling. Much ends up as e-scrap, creating toxic waste problems with serious environmental consequences here at home- and particularly in 3rd world countries.

StartUp Weekend is a small experimental competition with the potential for global ramifications and real profit. Sponsored by Teaming for Technology, StepUp Entrepreneurship Program, and NABocker.

  • Space is limited and acceptance is a competitive process
  • Complete entire application (email MJ Clark to request)
  • Deadline for submission – Friday, September 12, 2014
  • $25 application fee submitted to StepUp, 1701 Oberlin Rd., Raleigh NC 27608

Questions? Please contact Mary Jane Clark,  StepUp Entrepreneurship Facilitator at mjclark@stepupministry.org

MJ on Twitter